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SOCIAL   AND   POLITICAL   LIFE          201
Here we have not only a conception of equality that is almost Western^ but we have a type of thinking that strikes me as being most un-Chinese. It is strange that, in contrast to the Confucianist dictum that "courtesy should not be extended to the commoners and punishment should not be served up to the lords/* we have here a legalist who says that we should have a "law that does not fawn upon the mighty, and statutes that should be applied rigidly 5 so that wherever the law applies, the clever will submit and the powerful will not protest, the nobility will not be exempted from punishment and rewards will not go over the heads of the humble," Hanfeitse conceived of a law "before which the high and the low, the clever ones and the stupid ones shall stand equal/* He pushed the idea of a mechanistic rule of the law so far that he believed it would not be necessary to have wise and able rulers—a mechanistic notion which is totally un-Chinese.
Hence the Taoistic element in his system that "the king should do nothing." The king should do nothing, because he saw the kings could not do anything anyway, as the average run of kings goes, and there should be a machinery of government running so justly and perfectly that it does not matter whether we have good or bad rulers. The king, therefore, becomes a figurehead, as in the modern constitutional government. The English people have a king to lay foundation stones and christen ships and knight people, but it is entirely unimportant to the nation whether they have a good or bad king, an intelligent king or a comparatively mediocre king. The system should run of itself. That in essence is the theory of do-nothingism concerning the king, as interpreted by Hanfeitse and practised also with great success in England.
It is a queer irony of fate that the good old schoolteacher Confucius should ever be called a political thinker, and that his moral molly-coddle stuff should ever be honoured with the name of a "political" theory. The idea of'a government by virtue and by benevolent rulers is so fantastic that it cannot deceive a college sophomore. One might just as well regulate motor traffic on Broadway by trusting to the drivers* spontaneous courtesy, instead of by a system of red and green lights. And any thinkiEg student of Chinese history should have